Five Must-Do Activities in Tofino
A haven for both professionals and beginners, Tofino is the hands down surf capital of Canada. In summer the tiny town of approximately 1700 sees its population swell by the thousands as tourists flock to the area in search of waves.
Lessons start around $70, but for just $60 more you can get a private lesson with legendary local surfer Sepp Bruhwiler. The Bruhwiler family is pretty much royalty in Tofino, so the lesson is essentially the West Coast equivalent of playing polo with Prince William.
Go for a Hike
I hate to use the clichéd term “treasure” to describe Pacific Rim National Park, but that’s exactly what it is. Rainforest and vast expanses of sandy beach are married in this park that spans the coastline almost all the way from Tofino to Ucluelet. The forest explodes with green along the winding boardwalk of Schooner Cove Trail. At the end of the trail you’re spat out at a wide, secluded beach, which is mottled with mussels, starfish, purple shore crabs and other creatures during low tide.
Rainforest Trail and Radar Hill Trail are other popular routes in Pacific Rim National Park (the latter is wheelchair accessible). Those looking for a slightly more strenuous hike can check out Lone Cone. A 45 minute water taxi ride to Flores Island and a walk along Wildside Heritage Trail is required to reach the trailhead. Lone Cone is not in a public park, so you’ll need permission to access the trail. The hike is described as “like climbing a Stairmaster, except harder” and the view from the top has been called “revelatory”. It is admittedly one of the more complicated trails to access, but it’s well worth doing. Just beware the wolves.
This is what Tofino in winter is all about: watching massive waves pummel the shore. Smart stormwatchers visit the website Magic Seaweed to get the lowdown on where the biggest swells are crashing. Chesterman Beach and Florencia Bay are a couple of good spots to watch the ocean churn, but the ocean doesn’t always go all crazy in the same place every day. If you want to be a serious stormwatcher, a little intel doesn’t hurt.
Take a Tour to Hot Springs Cove
The word bliss gets thrown around a lot, but it applies here. A tour to Hot Springs Cove really is special.
The only way to access the hot springs is by boat or plane. Taking a boat means seeing whales, eagles, sea lions, porpoises, sea otters and, every once in a while, a puffin or two. If you love wildlife, it’s definitely the way to go. The average tour of the hot springs takes about six hours (that includes the boat ride and whale watching there and back).
Most people bring wine or beer to the hot springs, and those that don’t are always encouraged to. Nothing enhances the experience of lounging in a 120ºF natural pool like sipping a nice Shiraz right?
Search for Japanese Fishing Net Floats
Finding a Japanese glass float is the dream of every beachcomber who comes to Tofino. Seriously, people go loopy for these things. Some fanatics can be seen going out with headlamps after extreme high tide to find floats.
You have to be lucky to find one, which is why they are so coveted by the headlamped hoards. There is no best place to find them, but luck can sometimes be found towards the south end of Long Beach near Florencia Bay. You’re really best off going to less-traveled areas like Vargas Island though.